Tag Archives: Disability

Bills.com CEO Cautions Workers to Protect Livelihood With Life, Disability Insurance

San Mateo, CA (PRWEB) May 23, 2007

The first U.S. life insurance policy was issued almost 250 years ago, on May 22, 1761, by The Corporation for the Relief of Poor and Distressed Presbyterian Ministers and of the Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of Presbyterian Ministers. On this anniversary, Andrew Housser, co-founder and co-CEO of Bills.com, a free online consumer portal that provides financial tips and resources, suggests ways consumers can maximize life and disability coverage.

“Today, insurance companies have shorter names — but lives are longer,” Housser said. “Individuals may need life insurance and disability insurance more than ever.”

Insurance professionals estimate one in eight people will be disabled before they retire. Those who would face financial disaster if they lost their income need disability coverage, Housser said. Similarly, those with families that depend upon their income need life insurance protection.

Housser suggests five steps to planning the right insurance coverage:

1. Check job benefits. Many employers offer life and disability coverage benefits. Review the benefits package to understand coverage offered, such as life insurance benefits, usually stated as a percentage of a year’s salary.

2. Evaluate assets. In a financial disaster, insurance can help pay off a home, pay for children’s educations, provide time and/or child care support for a stay-at-home spouse to re-enter the workforce, and even pay basic expenses — plus health care deductibles and medical bills — in the event of an illness, injury or death.

3. Understand disability insurance. Two types of disability coverage exist: Short-term and long-term. Short-term coverage pays benefits for disabilities lasting less than six months. Long-term policies provide benefits for longer disabilities. The benefit period varies, depending upon the policy. The period can range from a few months up to the beneficiary’s 65th birthday.

“Just as a new car comes with a few items standard and a broad array of options (with a higher price tag) when nicely equipped, disability insurance includes what you pay for,” Housser explained. For example, two common definitions of coverage are “own occupation” or “any occupation.” Some policies pay only if a disability prevents the beneficiary from working at any job. “While those policies are less expensive, many people feel more secure with policies that pay benefits if they cannot work in their own fields,” Housser added.

4. Do some financial planning. Some employer-sponsored disability plans begin paying benefits within seven days after the beneficiary must leave the workforce. Many families can bridge that financial gap with their savings. Self-purchased plans offer waiting periods from 30 days to a year. Policy buyers can choose a lower premium if they have other resources to support themselves during the waiting period.

5. Get help if needed. The planning process raises complex issues. A trusted insurance agent and a qualified financial planner can help determine needed coverage.

“Both life and disability insurance policies offer many options. They can be customized to your family’s unique needs,” Housser said. “Doing the research you need to choose the best option allows you to move forward in life with confidence.”

Based in San Mateo, Calif., Bills.com is a free one-stop online portal where consumers can educate themselves about complex personal finance issues and comparison shop for products and services including credit cards, debt relief assistance, insurance, mortgages and other loans. The company blogs about consumer finance issues at http://www.bills.com/blog. Since 2002, Bills.com and its partner company, Freedom Financial Network, have served more than 15,000 customers nationwide while managing more than $ 350 million in consumer debt. The company’s co-founders and CEOs, Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh, were named Northern California finalists in Ernst & Young’s 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

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Social Security Disability Insurance Recipients Need Better Understanding of Pros and Cons of New Debit Card, Allsup Says


Belleville, IL (Vocus) March 27, 2008

Starting next month Social Security Disability Insurance recipients in some states will have the option of receiving their benefit payments electronically on a debit card, rather than via a paper check. However, eligible individuals — many of whom are “unbanked” — should have a clear understanding of the pros and cons of opting for the debit card, particularly the financial ramifications, according to Allsup (http://www.allsup.com), which represents tens of thousands of people in the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) process each year. It also offers services that support the financial and health well-being of individuals with disabilities.

“Before signing on to or totally dismissing the idea of the debit card program, potential cardholders should look at how they are likely to use a card,” said Paul Gada, personal financial planning director of the Allsup Disability Life Planning Center. “For some, the card may make sense. For others, they may realize after looking at their spending habits that getting a bank account may really be the best option. And there will be others that will always operate with cash only, regardless of the drawbacks it presents.”

The debit card program, called Direct Express, is run by the U.S. Treasury Department through Comerica Bank with the intent to encourage Social Security recipients who do not have a bank account to elect to have their benefits loaded electronically onto a debit card. The Direct Express program will be introduced this spring in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas before being phased in across the nation during the summer.

The cost savings for the government could be significant, based on estimates from the Treasury’s Financial Management Service. For example, it cost 89 cents for the government to issue a paper check in 2006 compared with 9 cents to process an electronic payment. As a result, if the 4 million recipients of Social Security, SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) who don’t have bank accounts were to sign up for the debit card, the savings could be $ 44 million annually.

Having monthly benefits electronically deposited onto debit cards also has its advantages for recipients, most notably convenience and security. In the case of individuals with disabilities who may have limited mobility, for example, having the debit card would mean that they would not have to make a special trip to cash their SSDI award or be concerned if they were hospitalized or otherwise unable to retrieve their benefit payment when it was due to arrive. Additionally, funds on the card are FDIC insured, just like money in a bank account, so the money is fully protected if the card is lost or stolen; though a card replacement fee will be assessed the second time a card needs to be replaced in any given year.

Evaluating the Costs

While cost savings for the government — and taxpayers — are obvious, the cost savings may not be as clear-cut for debit-card recipients. They might end up paying even more in transaction fees than the average $ 6 to have a paper check cashed, especially if they don’t pay attention to how they’re using the debit card.

Among the questions Gada recommends potential cardholders consider before signing up for a debit card include:

Social Security Disability Insurance Recipients Need Better Understanding of Pros and Cons of New Debit Card, Allsup Says


Belleville, Ill. (Vocus) June 10, 2008

The nationwide rollout has begun and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients in some states already have the option of receiving their benefit payments electronically on a debit card, rather than via a paper check. However, eligible individuals many of whom are unbanked should have a clear understanding of the pros and cons of opting for the debit card, particularly the financial ramifications, according to Allsup, which represents tens of thousands of people in the SSDI process each year. It also offers services that support the financial and health well-being of individuals with disabilities.

Before signing on to or totally dismissing the idea of the debit card program, potential cardholders should look at how they are likely to use a card, said Paul Gada, personal financial planning director of the Allsup Disability Life Planning Center. ”For some, the card may make sense. For others, they may realize after looking at their spending habits that getting a bank account may really be the best option. And there will be others that will always operate with cash only, regardless of the drawbacks it presents.”

The debit MasterCard program, called Direct Express, is run by the U.S. Treasury Department through Comerica Bank with the intent to encourage Social Security recipients who do not have a bank account to elect to have their benefits loaded electronically onto a debit card. Direct Express has been introduced in 10 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. The rest of the nation will be phased in throughout the summer.

Cost savings for the government could be significant, based on estimates from the Treasurys Financial Management Service. For example, it cost 89 cents to issue a paper check in 2006 compared with 9 cents to process an electronic payment. If the 4 million recipients of Social Security, SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) who dont have bank accounts signed up for debit cards, the savings could be $ 44 million annually.

Having monthly benefits electronically deposited onto debit cards also has its advantages for recipients, most notably convenience and security. For example, people with limited mobility who have the debit card would not have to make a special trip to cash their SSDI check or be concerned if they were hospitalized or otherwise unable to retrieve their benefit payment. Funds on the card are FDIC insured, just like money in a bank account, so the money is fully protected if the card is lost or stolen, although there will be a fee the second time a card needs to be replaced in any given year.

Evaluating the Costs

While cost savings for the government and taxpayers are obvious, it may not be as clear-cut for debit-card recipients. They may pay even more in transaction fees than the average six dollars to have a paper check cashed, especially if they dont pay attention to how theyre using the debit card.

The following questions are among those that Gada recommends before signing up for a debit card:

How accessible to you is an ATM in the Comerica network?
How often would you make ATM withdrawals and would they be at in- or out-of-network ATMs?
How often would you use the electronic bill payment feature?
Will the companies you are paying electronically charge you a fee for electronic payment?
Is there a bank in your area that could provide you with a more cost-effective solution for the features you want, such as ATM, electronic bill pay or direct debit?
If you are concerned about opening a bank account, have you spoken with a local bank to see if they can help alleviate your concerns?
Social Security recipients participating in the Direct Express program are allowed one free ATM cash withdrawal per month from a designated ATM. They are assessed a 90-cent fee for each additional ATM withdrawal. Cardholders may be charged an additional surcharge fee by ATM owners outside of the Comerica Bank network, which issues the debit cards. Additionally, program participants have access to online bill payment for a fee of 50 cents per online bill payment and can receive a paper statement for a 75-cent monthly fee.

Gada advises potential cardholders to consider how they would use the debit card. For example, rather than having to pay for a cashier check or carry large amounts of cash and pay bills in person, incurring a small transaction fee for electronic bill payment may be worth it, particularly for individuals who have a difficult time getting around. However, Gada noted, individuals should check to see if the organization they are paying will assess an additional charge for accepting electronic bill payment.

On the other hand, people who are going to head for an ATM every time they need cash will find transaction fees quickly adding up to little added value.

”In these cases, its time to seriously consider what is preventing you from getting an account at your local bank, because that probably would be your best option,” said Gada. ”Many banks offer no minimum balance checking accounts where you can have your Social Security benefits direct deposited and electronically pay bills or use their ATMs at no additional charge.”

Overcoming Banking Barriers

One of the reasons that some Social Security recipients continue to insist on paper checks is the fear that their bank accounts could be attached by creditors. However, under federal law, Social Security benefit payments are protected from attachment, meaning creditors do not have the right to take these funds from a recipients bank account. The same rules will apply to funds placed on Direct Express debit cards. There are a few explicit exceptions to the rules guarding against attachment of Social Security benefits. For example, Social Security funds can be taken to pay child support or alimony payments the individual owes.

”At any given time, there are likely millions of dollars in Social Security payments that are at risk because people on fixed incomes got into debt or are having a dispute with a creditor,” said Gada. ”Unfortunately, they are acting on inaccurate information that has them afraid to put their money into bank accounts where it can be protected and they can be afforded other benefits of being banked.”

About Allsup

Allsup, Belleville, Ill., is a leading nationwide provider of financial and healthcare related services to people with disabilities. Founded in 1984, Allsup has helped more than 100,000 people receive their entitled Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare benefits. Allsup employs more than 500 professionals who deliver services directly to consumers and their families, or through their employers and long-term disability insurance carriers.

For more information, visit http://www.Allsup.com .

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Unum Expands Partnership with Ceridian to Launch an Enhanced Free EAP for its Group Disability Clients in U.K.

Minneapolis (PRWEB) October 22, 2008

Unum (NYSE: UNM) , the leading disability insurer in the U.S. and U.K., has expanded its partnership with Ceridian, one of the worlds largest providers of human resource services, to launch an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in the United Kingdom. The new service will be offered under the name Unum LifeWorks and cover all employers and employees insured by Unum Group Income Protection (GIP) policies.

Importantly for employers, the program raises the bar in the provision of EAPs in the U.K. by providing access for employers to online and telephone legal and employment help lines for managers and supervisors.

The program is based on a best practice EAP service design which has worked extremely well for Unum and Ceridian in the United States. Unum US and Ceridian have been partnering since 1992 and offer a similar integrated EAP and work-life service to over 39,000 customers. Unums work-life balance EAP in the U.S. offers many modes of access to the service including online, face-to-face and telephonic to accommodate generational preferences and convenience. Employees can receive consultation and assistance with issues such as selecting a child care agency, parenting skills, elder concerns, financial worries, interpersonal problems at work, grief and relationship concerns just to name a few.

The U.K. program, which will begin in November 2008, has been specifically designed to provide a unique range of services that will benefit both employees and employers by aiding them with potentially stressful situations and issues. Stress-related illness is becoming increasingly prevalent amongst workers in the U.K. and offering an EAP will allow employees to seek advice at an early stage, before issues may start to impact on their health and work performance.

The launch comes on the heels of new research1 from Unum, which reveals that over half (51%) of all U.K. workers believe that their work has been impacted over the past two years due to stresses and worries.

The most common stresses cited by workers were worrying about personal health issues (38% of respondents) or other personal issues (37%), followed by stress due to the cost of living or not being able to pay off debts (32% and 25% respectively).

The research also revealed that work issues and personal issues are likely to have the greatest impact on an employees work performance; 72% and 71%, respectively of respondents who admitted that their work had been greatly affected by stresses and worries in the past two years cited these problems. These are followed by stress due to personal health issues (66%) and the cost of living (57%).

As our research shows, personal and work issues can have a significant impact on an employees ability to perform their role at work, said Wojciech Dochan, Head of Commercial Marketing at Unum UK, This can result in unnecessary levels of stress, which in turn can impact upon an employees health.

Unum LifeWorks will add value to our current GIP offering by not only helping both employees and employers to resolve potentially stressful and complicated personal and work-related situations at the earliest stage possible, but also supporting organizational management in the areas of legal and employment information. We are committed at Unum to supporting U.K. businesses as much as possible through the introduction of this new service.

Jeremy Campbell, director of Ceridian HRO sales, said: We are delighted to be working with Unum to provide well-being services to their policy holders. It is unrealistic to expect employees to leave personal issues at home, but by the same standard, with todays PDA and Blackberry culture work rarely stops when you leave the office. Unum LifeWorks provides guidance to individuals on a range of life issues, whilst also advising businesses on how best to support their employees with balancing work and life.

As well as providing emotional support from qualified counselors and support for everyday issues, users can benefit from access to a range of health, educational/career development and debt/financial specialists. In addition, the Unum LifeWorks Online website offers practical resources to enable users to be proactive and tackle their concerns before they impact on work and personal life.

Further services available for U.K. employees include access to telephone and face-to-face counseling, matched referrals for child and elder care and tips and advice online on a wide range of subjects. This is reinforced with printed materials and CDs which can be sent to employees homes, at their request, on topics that are relevant to them.

(1) Independent research agency ICM interviewed a random sample of 2092 U.K. adults aged 18+ from its online panel between 22nd-25th August 2008. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all U. K. adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at http://www.icmresearch.co.uk

About Unum

Unum (http://www.unum.com) is one of the leading providers of employee benefits products and services, and the largest provider of group and individual disability income protection insurance in the United States and the United Kingdom. Through its subsidiaries, Unum paid more than $ 6 billion in total benefits to customers in 2007.

About Ceridian

Ceridian is a business services company that helps its customers maximize the power of their people, lower their costs and focus on what they do best. Globally, the company serves more than 25 million employees with a range of HR, payroll, Employee Assistance Programs and funds transfer services, making it one of the few providers delivering services both locally and internationally.

For more information visit http://www.ceridian.co.uk or http://www.ceridian.com

CONTACTS:

John Hutson

Unum UK Head of Public Relations

John.Hutson@unum.co.uk

(011) 44 1306 873 641

MC (Mary Clarke) Guenther

Unum US Director of Corporate Communications

Mguenther@unum.com

Toll free: (866) 759 8686

Cindy Matalamaki

Ceridian LifeWorks Marketing Manager

cindy.matalamaki@ceridian.com

(952) 853-4291

More Women Turning to Social Security Disability Benefits; Mothers Should Know Their Options


Belleville, Ill. (Vocus) May 5, 2009

More working mothers are becoming disabled and losing their ability to support their families. That means it’s even more important for women to understand the role of Social Security disability insurance, according to Allsup, which represents tens of thousands of people in the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) process each year.

In the past decade, from 1999 to 2009, the rate of disability for women has grown by about 72 percent compared with nearly 42 percent for men, according to the Social Security Administration. Since 1990, the number of working women who are fully insured for Social Security benefits has grown by 28 percent to 99.7 million women. As of April 2009, 3.6 million women were receiving SSDI benefits as disabled workers.

Disabilities may result from an accident, a chronic disease or worsening condition. Some of the diagnoses affecting women include multiple sclerosis, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, depression and fibromyalgia.

“Women may not realize they are insured for disability benefits, especially during the period before they experience a severe disability,” said Cindy Ratermann, manager of disability claims specialists at Allsup. “Women who are widows or widows with young children also may qualify for Social Security benefits based on their husband’s work record, so this is another option to consider.”

SSDI is a federally mandated insurance program overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that operates separately from the retirement and SSI programs. SSDI provides monthly benefits to individuals who are under full retirement age (age 65 or older) and can no longer work because of a disability (injury, illness or condition) expected to last for at least 12 months or is terminal. Individuals must have paid FICA taxes to be eligible. More details are provided in the SSDI Overview on Allsup.com.

Concerns When Women Can No Longer Work

Women who have been working and supporting their families face enormous difficulties when they can no longer work because of an injury, illness or chronic disease. Allsup offers stories from women in this situation, including a former math teacher and former retail employee, on Allsup.com.

“If you’ve become disabled and must stop working on a long-term basis, you need to look at filing for SSDI benefits as soon as possible,” said Ms. Ratermann, who has more than 20 years experience in the SSDI process, working with a staff of nearly 580 professionals at Allsup.

Women must have a work history and meet certain qualifications to be eligible for SSDI on their own record, including having paid payroll taxes for five of the last 10 years. Having a record of your employment history for the past 15 years is ideal, said Ms. Ratermann. “Your earnings determine what your SSDI benefit would be if the SSA finds you disabled,” she explained.

Keep in mind that the SSDI process can be lengthy, with some claimants’ cases taking two to four years because of the backlog in the disability claims process. More than 2.9 million people are expected to apply for disability benefits in 2009, according to the SSA.

“Women can make this experience easier on themselves by choosing a representative to handle their SSDI claim,” Ms. Ratermann said. Allsup provides representation at all levels of the SSDI application process, including the initial application and, if needed, the hearing before an administrative law judge.

At the hearing level, or level 3, about 90 percent of claimants have a representative. Individuals Allsup represents at the hearing level generally receive an award four months faster than the national average. “It can be to your benefit to get representation from the beginning,” Ms. Ratermann said.

Considering Social Security Disability

There are a number of reasons why a woman should apply for SSDI, including regular monthly income. Additional considerations include:

Medical benefits: Regardless of your age, 24 months after your date of entitlement to SSDI cash benefits, you are eligible for Medicare, including Part A (hospital benefits) and Part B (medical benefits).
Prescription drug coverage: Once you are entitled to Medicare, you are also eligible for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan
COBRA extension: If you receive SSDI benefits, the length of your COBRA benefits could be extended an additional 11 months.
Protected retirement benefits: When you reach retirement age, SSDI ends and you transition to Social Security retirement benefits. Social Security disability entitlement “freezes” Social Security earnings records during your period of disability. Because the years in which you collect SSDI benefits are not counted when computing future benefits, your Social Security retirement benefits may be higher than if your earnings were averaged over a greater number of years.
Dependent benefits: If you receive SSDI benefits and you have a dependent under age 18, he or she may also be eligible for benefits. Benefits also may be paid to your husband on your earnings record if he is age 62 or older; or at any age if he is caring for your child (under age 16).

Insights On Social Security Benefits

Allsup provides representation services for Social Security Disability Insurance, but there are additional considerations for women.

Keep in mind that Social Security offers marginal amount of financial protection to women as a result of their earnings and through their spouse’s earnings, depending on the circumstances. Most people need 10 years of work, or 40 credits earned through payroll taxes, to qualify for benefits.

Today, nearly 60 percent of the people receiving Social Security benefits, including SSDI benefits, are women.

Women and earnings. Women are likely to earn less than men during their careers, so their benefits may be lower. For example, in April 2009 the average SSDI benefit for women was about 22 percent lower at $ 920.47 compared to $ 1,188.52 for men. One factor is that many women work as caregivers for family members and children during their earning years. Often, women step out of the work force for years at a time and, over time, pay less toward Social Security.

Women and business ownership. If you and your husband operate a business together, you are entitled to receive Social Security credits as a partner. Even though you may file your income taxes jointly, you should file a separate self-employment report with Social Security. This ensures that you get Social Security benefits from your own work. Otherwise, all the earnings will be reported on your husband’s work record.

Women and additional benefits. Your payroll taxes go toward several programs besides SSDI.

These include:

The Arc Brings Issues Facing People with Disabilities to the White House, President Obama Tells Disability Community Ive Got Your Back

Washington, DC (PRWEB) February 10, 2012

Today, 150 leaders of The Arc from across the country met with a variety of senior White House officials at a Community Leaders Briefing to ask questions and discuss issues facing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The session, held just for The Arc, included an unannounced visit from President Barack Obama. The President spoke of his commitment to people with disabilities saying, Ive got your back.

This surprise appearance by the President of the United States was the highlight of the day for many attendees, along with the opportunity to interact with high level government officials about how they can support people with I/DD to live in the community. Over the course of the day, leaders of chapters of The Arc were briefed on topics ranging from Medicaid to education to community living and employment for people with I/DD. Many of the speakers, including President Obama, referenced the impact advocates made during budget negotiations to protect Medicaid, and encouraged The Arc and others to continue these efforts.

Another unannounced speaker was White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, who reiterated the Presidents opposition to turning Medicaid into a block grant. He also took questions from the audience, including Barbara Coppens, a member of the national board of directors of The Arc and a self-advocate who took the opportunity to speak about the importance of self-advocacy by people with disabilities.

I tell other self-advocates youve got to get out there and advocate for yourself because you cant rely on other people to make change for you, said Coppens to Chief of Staff Jack Lew.

The day was organized by Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy, who kicked off the agenda by welcoming guests and speaking about employment issues. The Arc heard from Cecilia Mu

Western International Securities Offers Its Advisors a New Disability Insurance Program

Pasadena, CA (PRWEB) April 29, 2013

Western International Securities(WIS) and CPS Insurance Services recently facilitated the development of a Disability Insurance Program that will be offered to all Western International Securities Registered Representatives, their licensed assistants and Independent Registered Investment Advisors.

This new benefit program is in addition to the current partner program which was rolled out in 2011 that provides Western Reps with access to several health insurance options and coverage, said Carolyn Armitage, CFP